Friday, February 14

My Feelings on Dating, and Valentine's Day

I used to stress about being single.

It sort of happens in Utah Valley. A reason the Mormon Mecca of BYU exists is to bring youth together so they can date, fall in love, and get married. And as far as eternal salvation goes, marriage ranks way higher on the list than getting a degree. One is essential, the other is not.

So you hear about dating constantly in Provo and Orem and everywhere else. It happens in singles wards throughout the Church, but here in Utah it's intense. My last stake president spoke about dating every single time he took the stand. Every. Single. Time. And he made some pretty clear and forward remarks as well. "If you're a returned missionary and not dating twice a week, you're a sinner!"

I used to take those remarks personally. Every single thing the Brethren said about dating applied to me... because, well, they're the Brethren. Everything they say applies to everyone. Same thing with my priesthood leaders, from the stake president to the bishop to the high counselor in elders quorum who takes 15 minutes every lesson to talk about home teaching. It was all cogent.

And it was all awfully stressful.

I mean, at some point you start getting "older" in the Provo/Orem mentality. It happens around 24-25, and people start looking at you as part of the "old" crowd. And, in some cases, wondering why you're not married. For a guy who is trying to not tell the world about his issues (as I was), that was an awful experience. And having to let girls down without being able to tell them exactly why, "It's not you, it's me... really..." was an unpleasant experience at the very least.

But at one point it all changed.

I don't know when it happened, or even really how. Maybe I was in the temple, and God told me He would take care of me. Maybe it was part of a much bigger act of surrendering to God. Who knows.

But I stopped being stressed. I stopped worrying. I still cared, but I took all the negative emotions out and threw them away.

And life has been awesome since.

I used to hate Valentine's Day because it highlighted how utterly alone I was. Today, I'm totally fine. Yes, there are multiple people in love with me. Yes, I wish I were in love or even attracted to a girl. Yes, those elements are preparing for some major pain in the future. But I'm not worrying about it. At. All.

If I want to go on a date, I ask someone. If I don't, then I don't. It's that simple now.

When someone tells me I should date, I calmly tell them that I'm attracted to guys and an exception to the "everyone needs to date and get married young" mentality that is so easily promulgated, that God will take care of me, and that I date only when I want to.

That normally pushes people off guard enough that they gasp. Sometimes they affirm that I could get married if I wanted to, and I smile and nod and change the conversation. But I don't worry about it.

How am I going to fall in love with a girl when I don't want them touching me? I don't know.
How am I going to develop a relationship with someone when I have trouble making friends? I don't know.
How am I going to convince a woman I love to choose me, with tons of baggage? I don't know.

But God knows.

And He was the Person who put me here, and gave me the circumstances I live with. Autism, bipolar, same-sex attraction are all things that I can't just think away.

And so I let Him worry about it.

I have no control over who I love and who I don't. So I follow God and let Him worry about it.
Maybe I have trouble with social situations and norms. So I do my best, follow God, and let Him worry about it.
Some days I feel awful and can't do anything about it. I do my best, realize my inabilities, turn to God, and let Him worry about it.

And the liberation has been awesome.

Letting God direct my life hasn't been a scary thing like I thought it would be. Yeah, maybe I don't know what will happen in the future, but I know it will be good, because God is the One in control. I don't need to worry about anything outside of my control, and I can breathe a deep sigh of relief when someone tells me I need to do something not in my realm.

I want to fall in love with a girl someday. I want to be married in the temple and have a family and be an amazing dad and the best husband to my wife possible.

But, even more than that, I want to be the best son of God I can. And so I just follow Him, and do my best. And I know He'll take care of everything else. Everything may not be exactly as I would have planned it, but with God at the helm... it'll be perfect.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Having fears and challenges is universal. Gay or straight, Mormon or not, race, age, sex aside…we are all human. What is NOT universal, or common, is your honesty and willingness to share your story. It helps more people than you realize, and you connect with others way better than you give yourself credit for. Thanks and remember you are far from alone.

Madeleine said...

I've met you a couple of times in person, and always meant to read your blog. I'm really glad I did, as (despite being a girl, and straight) I really relate to a lot of the things you struggle with, and I'm really glad you're willing to share them.
I don't want it to sound like I'm trying to tell you I know what you should do here, because I don't and I know you'll have thought of anything I say, but I'm going to just say, you might not want to worry so much about getting into a dating relationship (even though it seems like that's what the pressing thing is, as far as women go), because that is something you can't control as well as friendships. I really thing that it's important to learn to have close friendships with the opposite sex, close emotional bonds with them, to be comfortable around them and talking to them.
And, don't worry so much about having to convince someone to choose you because I can say, definitively, who you are as a human being outweighs any baggage you have. I always feel as though I have more baggage than I'll ever be worth, but trust me, you are incredible, and if it's meant to work out, I can't imagine a girl not being willing to look past a few minor so-called flaws (most of which only serve to make you the incredible person that you are).
I'm so glad you know that God loves you, and are able to take comfort in that and understand that you can only do all that you can, and He'll take it the rest of the way. I hope one day I can be half as strong and faithful as you are, and I know that your life will be incredible.

Tricia S. said...

As a person who greatly devalued herself because of her baggage, and paid greatly for it, I have to say let it give you worth instead. You have so many experiences that give you depth and value. Being able to truly understand what it's like to be in a hard and dark place is incredibly valuable.

On another note don't get me started on the whole pushing and shoving to get young people dating and married ;)

Dulcinea del Toboso said...

I just love this post. Not sure how I stumbled onto it tonight. I am glad I read. I have been feeling crummy. I love how you have so much trust in God in this post. I have had much trust in Him especially in the last few years of my life. But sometimes, things do get a bit darkish..and we must stumble on. I found this in my stumbling.

I remember seeing a meme with the words "LET GOD" and the l, e, t, g, and o highlighted so it read "LET GO" also. When we "let go" and "let God" take care of us, look to Him, and TRUST him...it is such a peaceful thing.

So easy to lose that. Thanks for this reminder. So beautifully written: "I don't know. But God knows.... And so I let Him worry about it.... And the liberation has been awesome."!!!!!!!!

MUCH LOVE to YOU <3 <3 <3 <3